"Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”

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Large electricity suppliers must triple the number of smart meters they are installing, in order to meet the 2020 rollout deadline, consumer group Which? has warned. 

Firms will need to install 30 smart meters a minute, every day, for the next twenty-two months to replace the 46 million existing meters. At present, large energy suppliers are only putting in just 9.7 meters a minute. 

And, as the civil servant running the programme, Daron Walker, has admitted to the House of Commons Business Committee, the numbers installed over the past year actually dropped. Even so, his publicity mouthpiece, Smart Energy GB is still claiming that suppliers "are working hard to offer all households smart meters as soon as possible".

As Alex Neill, managing director at Which?, tartly observes, "The smart meter rollout has been plagued by problems and been massively delayed, the benefits have been overstated, and the savings they could bring consumers are at risk." 

She adds, "It is time for the Government to re-plan with industry and consumer groups, to ensure people get the maximum benefit at the minimum cost."

The National Audit Office agree. As have a whole slew of parliamentary reports. And a whole series of exposes of this debacle in the national press. But still this £14bn boondoggle continues. 

Almost the only item of good news is that this month should be the last during which the vintage SMETS-1 meters will be permitted to be installed. Only four years later than Walker originally promised. And in the knowledge that practically all of the 12.5 million of these antiques already installed will require serious upgrading in future.